Sunday 16 September 2007

Another 374 units in gated community

What the F*#k! Yet another disgusting housing ghetto is about to be built in your town.

Here's a Council that claims just a week ago from Councillor Freebody that it's done more for the environment than any other council. What? Damage our environment with land-clearing and more concrete apartments? What's our lovely little town turning into?

The Cairns Post reports that another 374 units will be constructed by CEC in Manoora, near Piccones IGA and in the proximity of Whitfield and Edge Hill State schools. Also recently approved are 30 units in the character precinct of Severin / Martyn Streets, and a four story multi-unit block on 1000sq mt , surround by low set houses in O'Hara Street, Earlville.

Incongruous development is repugnant, and every City Councillor that signs off on these should be ashamed. When they get thrown out of office next year, their legacy will be littered around this town like sores on a leper.

The Mayor laughs off his opponents who object at this type of high-density development. However this is the hallmark of the current Cairns City Council. They are not very creative sods at all. They can't appear to think outside the concrete square when it comes to building a community that people will want to come to and that will outlast a few years before it becomes another Redfern of 3 years ago.

"People like me who support these sorts of projects are disappearing down the gurgler [sic] if the media and my opposition have any say in it," our Mayor says. Byrne's mob are hell-bent on this methodology and believes that this is the first home option for everyone, therefore we [Cairns] must cater for this need.

It's like saying, because everyone wants to watch reality TV, then we'll make more of it! If that's all you dish out, then surely most of the population will lap it up.

The median house price in Cairns is now $295K, up 11% over last year. A Unit is $180K, up 6%, and $110K for a chuck of land, up 4%. The Units in this latest concrete castle will start at $240K.
Local property research company Herron Todd reports the trends:-

However the reality is that property investors, usually from southern states or overseas, purchase these tiny units and rent them out for $200-350 a week.

A 3 bedroom house is renting at up to $380pw whereas a 4 bedroom is nearly $500. This is meant to be affordable living?

Rick Carr of Herron Todd addressed the Cairns Chamber of Commerce last month with his annual state of property markets in the Cairns region.

Figures from the latest Midwood Queensland Investment Report shows 693 houses were approved for construction in Cairns in the six months to June this year, compared to 456 houses in the same period last year.

However, where it gets frightening the approach this Council is taking towards constructing a concrete zoo of close living Units. You only have to see the amount constructed. Cairns is fast becoming one of the most unlivable cities on the eastern seaboard.

Here's some of the apartments that were built during 2006:-

Bill Morris of Midwood says the growth rate of approvals in Cairns was now equal to that of the Gold Coast.

So be warned, this Council is determined to continue to approve development with little or no thought to the social fabric and future harm it will cost to our community. The massive intensity of living that is being constructed around our town is creating a time bomb for the future. Clever town planners with a social conscience would never agree with this degree of unit constructions.

It's a fact that crime and social disorder is exacerbated in such communities. Police are called to conflicts that involve neighbour disputes in units more the other residential dwellings. Because people don't have the space, they let off steam on their balconies, invite guests over till all hours, as they have no outdoor living area to enjoy. This upsets neighbours, who the majority simply want a peaceful living existence. These environments are never suitable for families nor children, yet this is the Cairns Council's plan for the future of our town as they believe that this is want families want. There's little place for play, nor interact outdoors with each other as a family, without disturbance to others.

And why is this one of the most popular building approvals for the Cairns City Council? Well, of course it's a no brainer. It's all about money. A truck loads of rates. Little wonder why our group of Councillors can't even debate a social plan for our city when the Mayor is driving ahead with so much high-density living in almost every suburb across the region. And he wants to manage Port Douglas and Mossman too? You have to be kidding.

Apartments that are being designed and built ignore past conventions of the traditional Queenslander, where the home naturally breathed to allows air flow. No units and houses are all designed around energy consuming air conditioners. I ripped out the air cons from my place the day I moved in here 7 years ago. Why is it that people move here for the climate, then lock themselves in and install $3,000 air con systems to keep them cold? Are I mad or is there something insane about this?

I believe it's a fundamental obligation of a Council to manage building growth in a way that is in balance with the available land, yet also takes into account the type of community we want to create. This discussion has not been held. The community and it's residents need to be part of developing the answer to this.

The most recent tragic examples of this is the construction of a multi-unit complex at Woree formerly used as a caravan park. Four or five levels high... three rows deep. Council should be considering a range of options before granting such approvals. There may well be a need for affordable accommodation on the southside, but such development must provide a livable environment. This site has no nearby parkland and this will create numerous problems.

Council has the planning and approval power to ensure these developments were of an appropriate size and nature, however it continues to demonstrate time and time again, that it is incapable of reflecting the views of its community when it approves poorly thought-out developments such as GlenCorp's new Woree ghetto. Our Council doesn't consult local residents before approving these types of developments in their neighbourhoods and fails to include adequate green space. When they does stick those signs on the street side "Development Objections should be lodged before...", it's merely a token gesture, as it has rarely sought advice or direction from residents, and is guided by the income from the developer and ensuing rate return in making decisions. The higher moral and intelligent position would be to look at the overall planning of our city, and what the community should look like and grow into.

Take the roundabout area down past Freshwater, with a colossal apartment complex now in prime river flood area. Drive past there and tell me that it stands out like dog's balls. What a disgrace to construct such an eyesore in what was such a beautiful lush green corridor. There are unfortunately many more examples like this.

High density housing should always be a last resort, not the first option in what a Council thinks "what people want". This Council is not simply reacting to a need, but is negligent to the highest degree in rubber-stamping these approvals year after year. They are simply asleep on the job and are woefully hopeless and narrow town planners.

Me thinks all this is starting to look a lot like industrialised China, and I know someone who visits there a lot.


Anonymous said...

While I lament the construction of these high-density projects, you've got to face facts Mr. Moore. With the main "Industry" in Cairns being tourism/hospitality, we've got a low skill workforce that don't deserve to live in upscale accommodations like you do, with your quasi-government funded job. People making $13/hour have clearly decided that they don't want to work hard for a living, and they don't want to educate themselves to get real jobs. Most of the "service" in this town is substandard by big city standards, much less the high standards set in Japan, Europe, and the US. The fact is this town is packed with low-class losers. As such, I have no problem with jamming them into highrise projects in well defined areas away from the upscale portion of the community.
And since the bulk of the community doesn't want to work to better their lives by investing in their own housing, we're fortunate that those of us with money and investors from Sydney and Melbourne have the courage to invest in these projects to provide housing for all this riffraff.
Besides, when the housing boom subsides (as it will very soon), we'll have an exodus of construction workers from Cairns - probably 10,000 workers, their partners, and rugrats. These people are only here for the work, and are not dedicated Cairns residents.

Anonymous said...

that's a post and a very interesting take on the matter. I've often wondered who would want to live in such units and high-densisty housing, usulally find it is young impressionable couples wanting to the normal societial thing, and I see your point these expectations and values are based on overall social educations.
If consumers refused to buy these housig options then developers would not be building them. But comsuers think small modern units are trendy, well they do don;t they? That's all, again great post.

Anonymous said...

"The medium house price in Cairns is now $295K"

Ummm I think you mean 'median' house price? Not to be confused with meaning the mean house price!

And yes anyone buying into those cheaper high density developments will likely end up a looser but the tirade in here aginst higher density has still ignored the adverse environmental impact of sprawl from lower density ......

Michael P Moore said...

You are correct - I did mean 'median'. The pitfalls of looking at the same piece of text ova and ova!
But I liked your comment that they are 'mean' prices!

Anonymous said...

My, my, anonymous #1 you have it bad, dont you?? ...maybe you should go back to where you came from, as your comments are not particularly community minded at all, and do not reflect the majority of cairns residents Im sure. Being bitter is not becoming of you !!

Michael P Moore said...

Thanks for your comment anon 1, but I have to declare that I don't "live in upscale accommodations"...what ever that is meant to be.

I'm also an apartment dweller, in a small block of units, but that doesn't give me the right to not express the type of town that I'd like to see evolve for our future.

And before you jump and say, it's the pot calling the kettle black, I believe this continued focus on this enormous high-density living .. 100 / 200 / 300 / 400 Units in one complex.. as we are seeing all over this town (Woree / Manoora etc) is not something that I, nor many others around this town appear to subscribe to, as sensible harmonious living.

I've also worked in tourism / hospitality and have to say u are right on the mark with your observations and the circle of property demand and what's 'affordable / accessible'. If we all subscribe to the view that the majority of residents don't wish to improve the quality of their existence... we are in trouble. That's why one would hope that a mayor and councilors should have an over-riding role of developing a town and creating a livable environment that will benefit everyone, and not create more social problems but thier short term greed of constructing such environments.

Anonymous said...

Well actually Michael P i meant 'mean' as in average which is different from 'medium'.

Whether some like it or not there is a market out there and the question is whether the 'mean' prices are so mean if people are still prepared to pay?

Supply will always bring us back past Council to the lamentable Beattie/Bligh govt .... and as someone who has directly taken up issues with them (and the lamentable desley boyle) i can assure you that the rising sun andrew fraser (new state treasurer and architect of council mergers) is just another spin machine with no capability to comprehend and act on issues!